Keeping the lights on virtually has been a series of pivots and bonding experiences for Ohio State Mansfield theatre performers and directors
When the Ohio State University at Mansfield Theatre performs Comic Shorts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 and Friday, March 25, viewers watching from the comfort of their home will have the opportunity to see many familiar faces, including student Jeffrey Hutchison.
Hutchison, who is a second year student majoring in social work, is excited to perform with members of campus and the community.
“I’m in two of the eight shorts, and I’m not going to give too much away about it,” Hutchison teased.
Hutchison did share that he will play a butcher who is participating in a video conference about sliced meat when someone joins the call thinking it is something else. “It’s a really fun story about meeting someone you think you’ve met,” Hutchison said. “It’s a very relatable story about mistaken identity, or a slice of life if you will.”
This is not Hutchison’s first performance. His interest in performing arts is lifelong. “I had been in theatre in high school, but I first became interested in theatre when I tried out for a musical of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in middle school,” Hutchison shared. “My first production with Ohio State Mansfield was a show called ‘Connected’ in 2019 and last fall I performed in ‘#Matters.’ Then I decided to try out in another show for this semester and that’s how I got into Comic Shorts.”
Hutchison will perform Comic Shorts with other Mansfield campus students, staff, alumni, faculty and community members.
In a year where many performing arts organizations have not been able to entertain audiences, Ohio State Mansfield theatre has found a way to keep the lights on virtually under the creative leadership of Joe Fahey.
Fahey, associate professor of theatre, shared that this year has been a good year and a great exercise in problem-solving.
“We had to do all of our performances remotely and that meant rehearsing mainly through zoom and then setting up a platform where we could do zoom webinars for our presentation,” Fahey said. “We learned a lot of new things, such as how to schedule, work remotely and deal with technology.”
Hutchison echoed Fahey’s sentiment, finding the time to rehearse one of the most interesting experiences. In high school Hutchison had two and half months to get his lines down, as opposed to the three or four weeks of rehearsals now before performances start.
“When it’s on Zoom, it’s a little easier,” Hutchison said, “It’s interesting to see how we're still able to get at that same level but in less time.”
Many of the students have developed close bonds with each other throughout the school year and have even started their own Dungeons and Dragons campaigns to stay connected, Fahey noted.
“It’s a great illustration of how much of a bonding experience theatre can be and how much of a community forms around our theatre students,” Fahey added.
For Hutchison, participating in theatre has enhanced his college experience because he feels more connected to campus by getting the opportunity to meet other people and actively getting involved. This past fall, the theatre had performed a piece that touched on race and he shared that it was nice to be able to present that to students. Hutchison’s passion for theatre also has led him to pursue a minor in theatre and is thankful that Fahey is helping him achieve that goal.
As this semester winds down, Fahey wanted to make certain that students are aware they can get involved in theatre this fall by joining the Theatre Club or participating on stage or backstage during productions. Students are provided opportunities to direct, work as actors in other student-directed work, or even write their own pieces.
“We have in the past been able to take some of the writers’ works and give them a reading so that they can hear actors trying to interpret their language and give life to the characters and that allows them to go back and make their work stronger.”
The virtual performances of Comic Shorts feature light-hearted skits to contrast the social issues and rich, traditional literary scripts that were produced this past fall. The skits include humorous segments based on dating, starting a book club, managing bad luck and even how to handle pandemics. The two-night run of Comic Shorts are free to all thanks to the generous support of Friends of the Theatre at Ohio State Mansfield.
Visit www.mansfield.osu.edu/theatre for more information on how to access these performances.